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Wyoming County under a health system emergency due to COVID

Wyoming County Community Health System
Wyoming County Community Health System
Wyoming County Community Health System

Wyoming County is in a health emergency because of the crush of COVID-19 packing Wyoming County Community Health System.

The hospital is full, with 60% of patients admitted due to COVID and there are dozens more patients waiting in the Emergency Department because there are no regular beds available. The virus issue also means that a state decree blocks any elective surgery, which cuts into potential revenues. There's a slowly-growing list of patients who need surgery, but can't get it because the hospital is full.

That's why Sen. Charles Schumer was in Warsaw Sunday, saying he's pushing Washington to use money that is sitting around to help hospitals hammered financially by COVID costs.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, wearing a brown suit and henley, in front of a WCCHS background.
Office of Sen. Chuck Schumer
Sen. Chuck Schumer speaks at Wyoming County Community Health System Sunday.

"I'm urging the Health & Human Services to stop using old data and prioritize the hospitals that are facing the current crisis, like Wyoming," Schumer said. "There's $17 billion still sitting there of money we allocated. If they use the old formulas, this hospital will get very little. If they use a new formula, based on COVID, based on stopping elective surgeries, the hospital will get a lot more money."

Hospital CEO Joe McTernan said providing care is costly and the hospital needs that potential federal cash.

"Infection rates in our region are spiking and our hospitals are over capacity." McTernan said. "WCCHS is one of 32 hospitals in New York with fewer than 10% bed capacity and we have suspended elective surgeries to care for the current surge. We need all hands on deck to care for the increasing number of patients being admitted, while addressing the burden of increased costs required to provide this care."

"They can't deliver health care, this great hospital doing such a good job for the residents here, but they can lose employees. That's one of the things we most worry about in COVID," Schumer said. "That when people stop paying, small businesses, big businesses, hospitals, governments, school districts stop paying people. They go. They leave and never come back."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.